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Discernment

Gospel of John

Week 7 Devotional


“Discernment”


“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” John 7:17





In the early chapters of the gospel of John, we see Jesus begin to develop quite the following of believers:


His disciples:  “You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”  -John 6:69


The Samaritans:  “....we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this indeed is the Savior of the world.” -John 4:42


The masses who had witnessed His miracles:  “And a large crowd was following Him because they saw the signs He was doing on the sick.” -John 6:2


But as His teachings became harder (John 6:53-58) and His claims of deity greater, some began to fall away.


“After this, many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.” -John 6:66


“For not even his brothers believed in Him.” -John 7:5


Not only did He lose some followers, but as the religious leaders began to have their authority challenged and their power threatened, Jesus began to face straight up opposition.  There began to be much division, and the Pharisees were accusing anyone who believed in Him of “being deceived.” 


So why did some believe and some not?  Why were some capable of discerning the truth, while others walked away.  Many of them were hearing the same teaching, witnessing the same miracles and signs, and had access to the same scriptures that prophesied His coming.  While some were willing to risk their very lives for Him, others did not believe….or maybe simply would not give up their worldly desires to follow Him.  


Isn’t it really the same situation today?  Many of us face unbelief or even opposition from family, friends, political or religious leaders, and various other people groups because of our belief and faith in Christ.  And many people today will say they believe in Jesus, but are not willing to cast away the desires of the world and follow Him in obedience.  Not only that, there are also many false teachers out there today who claim to know Him, but are they really His?  


In the gospel of John, Jesus cites several reasons for a person’s unbelief:


“You do not have His word abiding in you.” -John 5:38

“You do not have the love of God within you.” -John 5:42

“You receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes only from God.” -John 5:44


How do we have discernment and recognize the Truth when there are so many words, so many opinions being expressed through so many platforms?  How do we deal with opposition in a culture that can be so divisive and even volatile when it comes to Christianity?  The answer lies within His Word, and within us:  in seeking Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  


You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” -Jeremiah 29:13


“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” -Ezekiel 36:26-27


“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2


We have some powerful examples in the Bible of people who rejected Jesus initially, but through God’s transforming power became bold proclaimers of the gospel.  Like his brother James, who initially did not believe in Him, but after Jesus’ death and resurrection described himself as “a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” and went on to be martyred for proclaiming Christ.  And Paul, who went from persecuting Christians to dedicating his entire life to spreading the gospel through his ministry and by writing the majority of the New Testament.  



Discernment is a gift from God.  By seeking Him wholeheartedly through His word and in prayer, and by setting our mind on the things of God over the things of this world, the Holy Spirit will help us discern truth (and untruth) and give us mature understanding and guidance in dealing with the difficult situations (and people) and the trials of this life.  


“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” -Philippians 1:9-10










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Kristy Dyer. Wonderful job! My heart was pierced as I examined the Scriptures you used to support the text! Thank you for sharing a hard message that is the truth about how we need to surrender and serve. This went perfectly with Ben's message! I really appreciate the time you take to put these together.

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